Saturday, April 30, 2016
How I envy those in the US. You guys have access to V8 energy drinks literally everywhere. And all the flavors!!! And so cheap! I like V8 energy drinks so much that I have a standing order with anyone travelling south of the border to get me at least a 6 pack...preferably several.
This new V8 I picked up has an incredible aroma pineapple, carrot, apple, orange, tea aroma that keeps unveiling a new scent each time you stick your nose in it. It was so hard safeguarding a can of this stuff for a review.
The flavor is unreal! There is pineapple and sweet carrots at the start (the carrots are fairly mild and they boost the flavor) and mildly tart orange and tea at the end towards the finish. The aftertaste does have a very slight artificial sweetener-like note to it, but it also has traces of mild green tea and pineapple. The blend of flavors creates for such a mild, lingering and enjoyable finish that you just want to keep drinking it.
There are 80 mg of caffeine and the effects are like any other V8 - not too jittery, followed by a brief period of calmness and focus, followed by 1.5-2 hour long caffeine kick without the crash.
Cost - $5.99 for a 6 pack
Taste - 9.5/10
Energy - 6/10
Overall - 15.5/20...fresh, enjoyable, smooth, delicious
Sunday, April 17, 2016
OK, this is super confusing. About a year ago Red Bull released The Orange Edition, which looks almost identical, except for the inverted label. Well, if you look closely, you will see that this new one has the word "Tangerine" for the flavor on the front, instead of "Orange", and lacks the words "Sugar Free". Yeah, you guessed it - this one is the sugary version of the one released last year. Very odd since usually companies do it the other way around.
Oddly, this Orange Edition has the same dark yellow color as the regular Red Bull but has a very sweet, candy-like sweet mandarin aroma. The heavy carbonation prevents you from tasting much at first, but once it settles, you are greeted by a delicious, well rounded sweet tangerine flavor that morphs into a lingering candy-like/Jolly Rancher-like note that sticks to your tongue. I liked it at first, but a few sips later the sweetness started building up too much, but I just couldn't stop drinking because the carbonation and sour bite at the start of each sip washed it all away...only for it to intensify later.
Well, I liked it, but I still prefer the original syrupy taste. There is something about that delicious concoction of chemicals that I enjoy.
The can contains the standard 80 mg of caffeine and if you ever had a can of Red Bull, this one works the exact same way. It is like they use the same basic ingredients or something. /sarcasm
Cost - $3.19 from Shoppers Drug Mart
Taste - 7.8/10
Energy - 6/10
Overall - 13.8/20...a bit sweet
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Teas are giving coffee a run for its money these days. Natural Warrior is the latest offering of high octane teas that pack a punch and thanks to the good folks over there, I got to sample the most caffeinated ones.
When I heard the name Guayusa, I automatically assumed that this is a type of green tea that comes from the same bush as all others, just picked at the right time for maximum caffeine concentration.
I was wrong. Guayusa actually comes from a tree from the Amazon Rainforest. Both species and location were completely off. Can't say that I feel very proud, but I learned something.
This tea needs to be brewed for 5 to 6 minutes and makes a brown-ish tea that looks a lot like a cup of black tea. The Guayusa has a surprisingly mellow flavor that doesn't quite hit you until just before the finish. At times the flavor reminded me of that of a Pu-erh tea with its musky and earthy tones...except turned down a notch. The finish was surprisingly dry and clean which made me want to finish my cup of tea. But with the tea done, I had to grab a bit of water.
Very interesting and enjoyable flavor. Completely different from what I was expecting and it is safe to say that I was very pleasantly surprised.
The Yerba Mate is recommended to be brewed between 5 and 10 minutes depending on your strength preference. I went for the middle and timed 7 minutes. After 7 minutes I had a green-ish looking tea that quickly started to oxidize with the leaves removed. By the time I sat down with it, it was brown.
The Mate has an earthier and more intense aroma and flavor. I wish I had more tea to see how the brewing times would affect the flavor, but I can tell you that at 7 minutes, you get a pretty strong flavor. It is hard to describe Mate if you haven't had it and the descriptors that I often use sound disgusting, but in reality, Mate is delicious. So when I say that this has wet moss/ground and damp cellar flavor, I really mean that it has a very intense earthy notes. Don't be revolted. This is just the type of tea.
Surprisingly, the Mate is not bitter at all. It is much mellower than many other Mates I have had in the past. The earthy tones sneak around the back of your mouth and turn slightly acidic, giving you a dry and semi-clean finish. Some traces of the earthiness can be noted in the aftertaste, but overall, it is quite clean.
The Guayusa has the highest caffeine content of the Natural Warrior teas with about 80 mg per cup. The Yerba Mate is a close second with a concentration of 50 to 78 mg per cup. Of course this is if you follow the recommended brewing technique. If you want to, you can use more loose leaf tea for more caffeine. I increased the Yerba Mate concentration just a bit to make it similar to the Guayusa for an easier comparison of the effects.
The effects of both are felt within 10 minutes. As I was sitting in front of the computer at 6:00 am on Monday morning, I started to slowly feel a very familiar caffeine buzz slowly picking up pace through my body. The buzz at first is strong and almost gives you jitters. But after a few moments, it disappears and your mind focuses on the task at hand. I was writing for work and I felt very focused and calm for about 20-30 minutes. There were no jitters or any other ill side effects that were affecting me. I was just in the zone for that brief time period.
After the period of focus, the caffeine was fully absorbed and the focus started to be replaced by a a very energetic physical feel. I was ready to present, talk and get stuff done at work at that point.
The effects of both teas lasted for just over an hour after that, giving you almost 2 hours of focus and energy per cup. I felt no ill side effects, like a crash, at the end of the hour.
Overall, Natural Warrior teas taste and perform great! I love the earthy flavor and the focused effects. If you are seeking a coffee replacement, these may be the teas for you.
Cost - $25 for 60 grams
Taste - 9.5/10 (same score for both)
Energy - 6.5/10 to 10/10 depending on concentration
Overall - 16/20 to 19.5/20...earthy, bold, with a great kick
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
If you haven't seen Boylan's sodas then you must be blind. These sodas are literally everywhere and are quickly taking over Jones shelf space. I got a batch of these to review courtesy of the good folks at Pacific Bottleworks and I am so very grateful.
Boylan's Sparkling Cider is a limited release, so get yourself a bottle right now if you are a fan of Boylan and ciders.
This sparkling cider has a bold apple aroma with notes of both sweet and sour apples, and just a tiny bit of caramel. The soda is not as carbonated as I expected it and starts off with a rounded, creamy mouth-feel bringing the caramel and sweet apple notes to the taste buds. The sour apples come in after and tend to stick to the back of the tongue. The sweetness suppresses most of the sourness and results in an interesting cola-like twist at the finish, which also carries some of the creamy character of the start of the drink. Very interesting and satisfying soda.
Taste - 9.0/10
Coming from Europe, we do love our birch products. I grew up with birch juice and was happy when it started becoming popular here at places like Shoppers. I have also had alcoholic birch beer, but I have never had birch soda drinks before.
Boylan takes a slightly different approach with birch beer. The birch flavors come from birch oils, which are dark and give the soda its dark, cola-like color. The soda has a sharp anise aroma with hints of vanilla and caramel and something that reminds me of the basic Crest toothpaste. The taste carries the same notes, but it is much softer than the aroma. The anise much less pronounced and you get a subtle influx of earthier notes and some of that familiar, but hard to explain Crest toothpaste hint...could be a blend of mint and anise. The vanilla, caramel and mint-like notes come out near the finish and form the aftertaste.
I would compare this to an intense root beer with a touch of anise and mint. Very interesting and rather enjoyable.
Taste - 8.8/10
This is a staple flavor that is rather hard to pull off if you want to skimp on the depth and complexity of it. Boylan's orange flavor does come through, though. The aroma has a strong orange and tangerine peel bouquet while the flavor has multiple layers. It starts off with a mild candy-like orange, followed by a sweet tangerine, which takes you all the way to the end. I must admit that this is a little too sweet for my liking, but that cane sugar really rounds off the corners. There doesn't seem to be any harshness as you would get from a high fructose corn and I do like the tangerine finish. It helps round off the end.
To try something different, I diluted the last bit of this soda and it was absolutely awesome. The sweetness was cut down a bit, but the flavors remained there.
Taste - 8/10...it is sweet
Not the biggest fan of straight up cream sodas, but the deep golden color really intrigued me about this one. This creme soda has a very warm and inviting aroma that reminds me of sweet glazed donuts, vanilla and caramel. The flavor is sweet and comes at you head on with the sugary goodness of a dozen glazed donuts, followed by a sprinkling of vanilla. The finish reveals a combination of caramel and butterscotch which reminds me of Werther's candies, but damn is this sweet...oh well, at least it has cane sugar which gives the soda a very round, smooth sweetness.
Taste - 8.1/10
This root beer has an aroma that is very similar to the Birch Beer but with a touch more sweetness and spice. The taste is also very similar at first, but give it a few moments and the flavor starts to diverge. Vanilla and caramel will stay behind with a very minimal anise hint and a very round sweetness profile thanks to the cane sugar. The aftertaste is an interesting blend of candy cola-like and root beer-like flavors.
Man, I am sold on cane sugar. Love how it rounds off the flavors in all of these sodas.
Taste - 9/10
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
I came across the Rumble Supershake line up at a Bulk Barn near my place. I don't normally go for protein shakes, but the Coffee Bean flavor intrigued me as it had a decent dose of caffeine in it. I sucked it up, paid the $3.99 for the aluminium bottle (or is it a can then?) and went home to give it a shot.
But before I left, I checked the other flavors Bulk Barn had and none of them had caffeine so I didn't get any of the other ones...at least for now.
First off, follow the steps outlined on the cap - "Shake gently" and "Open slowly". I opened mine quickly and the coffee rich contents exploded all over my hands and bottle.
Rumble's Coffee Bean flavor looks and smells like any caffeinated iced coffee from the major energy players. The flavor is not like the major brands, though. It starts off watery, but starts to build up flavor near the middle. Unfortunately, the flavor never builds up to the intensity I expected. The coffee flavor is very mild and doesn't come out until the aftertaste. Milk and protein dominate the second half of the flavor and turn the mouth feel more into a moderately thick shake with a chalky consistency that sticks to your tongue. The aftertaste has some of the coffee notes, but it also has a bit of the milk raunchiness.
Overall, this Rumble Supershake is very easy to drink with its mild flavor and low sweetness level, but flavor-wise, it doesn't compare well to other caffeinated protein shakes, like Monster's Muscle Coffee shake. It does, however, hide the protein better than Blu Dot.
There are 111 mg of caffeine, which is a bit more than I expected when I picked it up. Again, this isn't comparable to Monster's Muscle line-up, but the 111 mg is enough for a product with Non GMOs and other goodness.
The effects are fairly quick yet gradual. I felt awake, yet calm and focused within 10 minutes. No jitters for me yal! The caffeine kick came in after another 20 or so minutes and I was pumped. But a happy pumped kind of a thing. I wasn't so overenergized that I wanted to run around which is always a good thing for me. I like products that can deliver this kind of a calm energy.
The kick lasted for around 2.5 hours and ended without drama. Great kick!
Cost - $3.99 from Bulk Barn
Taste - 7/10
Energy - 7.8/10
Overall - 14.8/20...mild flavor, but a focused kick
Sunday, March 6, 2016
I am trying to remember where I got this from, but I am drawing a blank. It was definitely somewhere in Michigan, but I cannot recall if it was from Target or Meijer. In any case, I found this almost expired Suja Essentials beet juice hiding in the back of our fridge. I thought it was my wife's and she thought it was mine so no one touched it for the past couple of months. Damn.
The dark red color is an easy indicator of what is inside the bottle - beet juice. But there are a few other fruits/vegetables tossed in there for a good measure as well - apple, carrot, orange, banana, pineapple and turmeric (no, it is not a fruit, nor a vegetable).
Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are a fan of it), the beet remains the king of both the aroma and the taste. Some carrot finds its way through the aroma, but it is no match for the mighty beet. The flavor is a bit different and you get a clear, distinct pineapple and turmeric at the finish, and well into the aftertaste, but the beet still remains the king. I like beets, but I still found it to be a bit overpowering, considering that when blended with some of the other flavors, an interesting damp/cellar note emerges.
Despite the heavy beet presence, the beverage is surprisingly smooth, light, easy to drink and refreshing.
Cost - ~$3
Taste - 8.8/10
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Aaah, the last of the Joker energy drinks...the one that threw me a curve ball and dig up some long-forgotten memories, the moment an almost clear liquid started pouring out of the can. Yes, this energy drink barely has any color to it. Fill up a glass and you will get a very light pink/faded orange combo.
On to the taste itself. Despite the light color, the aroma is heavy on the mango and on an unidentifiable mix of tropical scents. Seeing how the previous Joker energy drinks were Monster/Red Rain clones, I was expecting a mix between Monster Khaos and Red Bull Summer Edition, but what I got instead was a clone of another clone - Red Rain Tropical Mango...OK and a bit of the Red Bull mixed in for a good measure.
It is hard to remember exactly what the Red Rain tasted like 7 years ago, when I first reviewed it, but based on my notes, this energy drink is very similar to it...maybe it even uses the same formula. There is plenty of citric acid here, giving the beverage a bite. And the flavors are light, but I think were slightly improved over the Red Rain as they taste slightly less artificial...but still sort of artificial.
Overall, the drink is light on the flavor, but delivers the taste the label advertises. The sour bite give the drinker a refreshing and clean finish.
There are 150 mg of caffeine, which is not surprising. The effects are also not surprising with a quick burst of sugary energy, followed by a period of jitters, followed by a period of uncontrollable physical energy, followed by 2-3 hours of just plain physical energy. A mild crash will come at the end of the can and if you are consuming this beverage later on in the day when you don't have as much energy, be ready to experience a full crash.
Cost - $2.29
Taste - 8/10
Energy - 8/10
Overall - 16/20...light, but clean flavor